49ers

Kyle Shanahan sees Jerick McKinnon, Matt Breida as lethal 49ers tandem in 2019

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Kyle Shanahan sees Jerick McKinnon, Matt Breida as lethal 49ers tandem in 2019

Editor’s note: The 49ers break for the bye week with a 2-8 record. This is part of a series that recaps the first 10 games with an eye to the future. In this installment, what the 49ers have done right since the beginning of the season. 

While the 49ers have managed just two wins this season, there have been a few things that have gone right. Matt Breida’s emergence as a lead back is one of them. 

The undrafted second-year pro has shown his toughness. He's battled through an ankle injury though several weeks while still being productive. He also has solidified a future on the offense. 

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said he had anticipated both Brenda and Jerick McKinnon as a tandem since before the offseason, and that will remain the plan for 2019.

“I envisioned it this year,” Shanahan said. “So that won't change next year.”

Breida has run for 632 yards on 113 carries, giving him 5.6 yards per carry thus far. While his 8.4 yards per carry led the league through Week 2, he currently is ranked ninth.

[MAIOCCO: Breida's road to starting RB]

The 23-year-old was not known as much of a receiver at Georgia Southern, where he caught 11 passes for 156 yards in three seasons. Since becoming a Niner, he has worked on his receiving ability, and Shanahan has found interesting and productive ways to utilize him. 

Breida has 15 receptions for 124 yards through Week 10 and 36 catches for 304 yards as a 49er. Shanahan spoke about how Breida has worked to become more of a receiving back. 

“He's worked on it a lot,” Shanahan said. “Breida's worked on everything. Breida, I just told our team the other day, and we have lots of guys that work hard, I think all of our guys work hard. But, in terms of taking it to a whole 'nother level, Breida and [George] Kittle showed that the first day of OTAs.”

It’s really no surprise that both Breida and Kittle have excelled this season with their “extra credit” work. 
 
“They were just pretty obsessive in everything they were doing,” Shanahan said. “Every little detail of their game, and it's improved in a lot of areas. And Breida in the pass game, he wasn't our No. 1 target last year. And with Jet [McKinnon] going down this year, it's given Breida more opportunities. He worked a lot in this offseason so he could be ready for those opportunities.”

Why Le'Veon Bell unlikely to be right fit for 49ers in NFL free agency

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Why Le'Veon Bell unlikely to be right fit for 49ers in NFL free agency

The 49ers spent big money on a running back in free agency last year. But the contract Jerick McKinnon signed doesn't even compare to the kind of deal that would satisfy scheduled free agent Le’Veon Bell.

McKinnon signed a four-year, $29.75 million deal with the 49ers in 2018. Bell, meanwhile, refused to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers last season for $14.5 million on the team's franchise tag.

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said Wednesday that the organization would not place the franchise tag on Bell again this year. So, Bell is scheduled to be available to any team as an unrestricted free agent in mid-March.

Don't expect the 49ers to get seriously involved, though, said former NFL quarterback Chris Simms, an NBC Sports analyst and close friend of 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan.

“That’s a position where Kyle, the Shanahans in general, look at and go, ‘I can get more out of that position than the normal guy; I don’t need to waste money to get a special player there to get special results,’ ” Simms said on The 49ers Insider Podcast.

“Their offense, their design, can get special results as long as the player doesn’t have any huge, glaring weaknesses. Yeah, I’d be shocked if Le’Veon Bell ended up on the 49ers.”

McKinnon missed all of last season after sustaining a torn ACL one week before the start of the regular season. McKinnon is on pace to be cleared for the start of training camp -- if not sooner -- according to general manager John Lynch.

[RELATED: If 49ers add running back, who falls off the depth chart?]

In McKinnon's absence, the 49ers turned to Matt Breida, Alfred Morris, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson. Breida led the way with 814 yards with a 5.3-yard average. Breida, Morris, Mostert and Wilson combined for 1,769 yards with a 4.9 average.

Bell, 27, gained 1,291 yards (4.0 average) and nine touchdowns while catching 85 passes for 655 yards and two touchdowns in 2017. McKinnon, 26, gained 570 yards (3.8 average) and three touchdowns with 51 catches for 421 yards and three TDs in 2017 as a part-time player with the Minnesota Vikings.

Colin Kaepernick 'Icon' jersey offers NBA stars another way to show solidarity

Colin Kaepernick 'Icon' jersey offers NBA stars another way to show solidarity

Recently, some prominent NBA stars have come out in support of former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, displaying their solidarity in different manners.

The Warriors' Kevin Durant, for instance, donned a black No. 7 jersey to and from a recent game at Oracle Arena, bearing the phrase "#IMWITHKAP" on the chest.

Steph Curry, wearing the same attire, recently posed for a photo with his son Canon.

The Lakers' LeBron James wore a nearly identical jersey getting off the plane when he and Los Angeles made the trip to Oracle to face Golden State earlier this month.

James took his support of Kaepernick a step further when he was asked about Kaepernick's reported settlement with the NFL at All-Star Weekend in Charlotte.

[RELATED: NFL compensating Colin Kaepernick for not playing football]

If Durant, Curry and James -- or anyone else for that matter -- like the black-and-white look, and want to show further solidarity for Kaepernick, well, they're in luck.

On Wednesday, Nike announced the release of a limited-edition Colin Kaepernick 'Icon' jersey -- the same one James wore as a tease getting off the plane in Oakland. As Kaepernick explained in a tweet, the jersey is dedicated to "those true to themselves on and off the field. Proudly, unapologetically and against all odds."

"We believe Colin Kaepernick is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward,” a Nike spokesperson told The Undefeated. “The jersey marks Nike’s continued product collaboration with Colin."

The NFL logo is notably absent from the jersey, which should not come as a surprise given Kaepernick's recent litigation with the league. 20 percent of all proceeds from the sale of the jerseys will go to the Know Your Rights Camp he founded, which raises awareness for youth "on higher education, self-empowerment and instruction on how to properly interact with law enforcement in various scenarios."

So, if you're in the market for a new black-and-white look, or simply want to show more support for Kaepernick, there are certainly worse ways you could spend your money.